Teenage Travel

French fries in Amsterdam are a must!

A few weeks ago I embarked on a travel experience unlike any other. I took my 13-year-old niece on her first, hopefully not last, international trip. The last few years my niece Zoie has asked me to take her on a  trip. Thankfully the stars aligned and I finally made it happen.

Initially, I wanted to take my niece to Mexico to visit my brother and his family but tickets were extremely costly so I decided against Mexico for now. As I scoured my favorite travel sites like theflightdeal.com and secretflying.com, I found a great deal from NYC to Amsterdam for $350pp. I chose to go over Veterans Day to take fewer vacation days from work and it would be fewer school days Zoie would have to miss.

Downtown Helsinki

Leading up to the trip, I asked my niece for her input about what she would like to do. She expressed interest in going to the Anne Frank House and checking out notable restaurants.  En route to Amsterdam, we had an 8-hour layover in Helsinki, Finland.

In Helsinki we were able to see:

Senate Square

Helsinki Cathedral

Rock Church (Temppeliaukio Church)

The Chapel of Silence (Narinkkatori)

Sibelius Park and Monument

*Helsinki is a very walkable city but their winters are quite cold so dress accordingly. Helsinki is a part of Scandinavia but unlike its neighbors (Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Sweden), the Euro is the currency. I tried my first reindeer burger at the Helsinki airport and boy was it delicious!

The Chapel of Silence
Sibelius Park and Monument

Our Amsterdam 3 day itinerary included the following:

Anne Frank Museum

Van Gogh Museum

City Bike Tour

Evening Canal Tour

A’DAM Lookout


Like many European countries, walking and biking are the primary forms of transportation. Biking in Amsterdam is especially popular. The Airbnb we stayed in was centrally located so most of the places we visited were only about a 15-20 minute walk. The weather was a bit warmer than Helsinki with temperatures in the 50’s with occasional rain. Since this was my niece’s first international trip, there were many things which she was not aware of. For example, she was not aware that clothing and shoes are often more expensive in Europe, customs, currency conversion, different electrical outlets, etc. 


Tips when traveling with teens:

1.Make sure they have the appropriate clothing for the destination. Check the weather leading up to the trip. * I typically add the city in my weather app on my phone a couple weeks beforehand.

2. Provide them with an electrical converter and portable battery so they won’t have to hog yours.

3. Make copies of schoolwork if they will miss school. No one wants to log around huge textbooks on vacation.

4. Depending on the age of the teenager, you might want to hold on to their passport in case they’re careless.

5. If you would like for them to be able to use their phone abroad, make sure they have an international phone plan. T-Mobile provides free text messaging in many countries.

I will never know how the trip to Europe impacted Zoie. I hope it has given her a different perspective and has inspired her to see the world. In the future, I would love to take all of my nieces and nephews abroad. Domestic travel is important as well but there’s nothing like seeing the canals of Amsterdam up close and personal!

If you’ve taken your child on an international trip, where did you go?

If you haven’t but would like to, where do you want to travel with your child?



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